We often hear opinions that the Premier League is the best league in the world and top teams would dominate other leagues. But that is not something Manchester United can boast about, as they have traditionally failed against Spanish teams.
Manchester United’s Spanish curse began at Sevilla. In the 2017/18 season, the two teams faced each other in the Champions League eighth-finals, and in the first match at the Ramón Sanchéz Pizjuán, the home side were clearly superior, but they expressed it only in the number of shots (25-6, 8-1 on target), and the duel ended in a goalless draw.
In the return leg, Sevilla showed their quality and, thanks to two goals from Wissam Ben Yedder, secured their qualification to the quarter-finals.
A year later, Manchester United shocked PSG in the eighth-final with a last-minute turnaround, and they were confident of taking on Barcelona in the quarter-finals. However, the Catalans won the first leg at Old Trafford 1-0 and secured qualification in the return leg with a 3-0 win.
There’s that Sevilla again. In the 2019/20 edition of the covid, the knockout part was played for only one match on neutral ground. In the semi-final at the Cologne Arena in Germany, Manchester United ran into Sevilla and went quickly into the lead thanks to a Bruno Fernandes penalty.
But the visitors turned the game around thanks to goals from Suso and Luuk de Jong and advanced to the Europa League final, where they won their historic sixth title after beating Inter.
A year later, Manchester United finally reached the Europa League final. The duel with Villarreal was a clear favourite, but the Red Devils fans had miscalculated a lot. Gerard Moreno sent the Spaniards into the lead in the 29th minute, and Cavani equalised in the second half.
The game went to penalties, with the 11th of the series being the decider. All the players converted, so it was the goalkeepers’ turn and while Gerónimo Rulli converted, David de Gea sent his attempt wide of the target to secure Villarreal’s first trophy in the club’s history.
Atlético Madrid 2021/22
Last season, too, Manchester United’s players crashed out on the Spanish side’s hoof. João Félix opened the scoring in the first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano, before Anthony Elanga equalised ten minutes from the end.
In the rematch, the Red Devils should have been able to secure promotion, but they couldn’t get into Atlético’s closed defence, and Renan Lodi gave the visitors the lead, which they had already taken.
Fatal opponent. The name Sevilla may soon be banned from Manchester. Yet it seemed that ten Haga’s charges could break the Spanish curse, leading 2-0 in the first leg. However, Sevilla equalised at the end thanks to two goals to make it 2: 2.
But in the rematch at the Ramón Sanchéz Pizjuán, only one team played. Sevilla won 3:0 thanks to two mistakes in United’s defence and advanced to the semi-finals of the Europa League. Moreover, it deepened Manchester United’s phobia of Spanish teams, with whom they crashed out for the sixth time in a row.
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